Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Employee Morale /

In our last blog, we talked about one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. No, not weight loss. “Get a better job” ranks up there as one of the top New Year’s Resolutions. So last time we talked about how your company can be that “better job” and attract big talent to your small business. (You can read that blog here.)

But what about your current employees? You’ve put so much time and resources into them and the last thing you want to do is lose them! We think one of your resolutions, as a business owner, should be to retain your employees.

High employee turnover can cost your small business valuable time and productivity. Not to mention, the loss of your most talented employees.

So what can you do to retain your employees? There are some basic things every employee looks for: competitive pay and benefits, good management, and open communication to name a few. But employee retention goes beyond just that.

The keys to high retention are employee engagement and happiness. There are many strategies for improving these areas in your workplace. One way is to focus on the needs and desires of your employees by age. Three age groups – millennials, generation X, and baby boomers – currently make up the bulk of the workforce, as the majority of traditionalists are now retirees.

We’ve highlighted the best strategies you can use to retain your employees in each of these age groups. With our help, this may be the one resolution you keep this year.

Millennials

Millennials will soon be the most prevalent group in the workforce. They will make up 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025, according to a 2011 study by the BPW Foundation. Thus, learning to retain employees in this age group is vital. Problem is, they are also the hardest group to retain. So what can you do to ensure this group stays with your company?Retain Your Employees

1. Mentor them

Since millennials are young and just entering the workforce, they look to form professional connections and learn the ins and outs of the adult world. Acting as a mentor or setting up a mentoring program for millennial employees will help ensure their workplace happiness and in turn keep them at your company longer.

2. Offer flexibility

Offering flexible schedules is perhaps the most important strategy for retaining valuable millennial employees. Millennials have several other commitments to juggle with work and don’t want to upset the balance. That’s not to say they are lazy; they just prefer options. Offer opportunities for them to use their extensive tech knowledge by working remotely. Additionally, offering shorter weeks and/or flex time are helpful options.

3. Make use of technology

Millennials have grown up with technology. This is something they want to put to use. Millennials seek companies that offer opportunities to work with up-to-date technology. Strive to be current and place millennials in positions that work directly with technology.

4. Show respect and trust

Millennials have somewhat of a bad reputation in the workforce. Many claim they are lazy or entitled. Because of this, many employers make the mistake of not trusting or respecting this group. Be sure to show you respect and value millennial employees, as they are more likely to contribute and work hard if they feel respected. Supply a platform for millennials to showcase their skills, allow them to contribute ideas, and let them know how their work fits into the bigger picture. Remember: as with everyone else, they want to contribute and have their voice heard.

5. Allow for professional growth

Again, millennials are new to the workforce, and they definitely don’t want to spend their entire career working an entry level position. If they don’t feel they have a future in a company, they won’t hesitate to leave for another. Thus, it is important that you offer them ways to move up within your ranks. Provide opportunities for them to take on new projects and increase their responsibilities. Find out what their career goals are and work with them to help them reach them within your company.

6. Have fun

As part of their desire for balance, millennials like to have fun in the workplace. They want work to be enjoyable. You can foster a fun, but productive work environment by offering different activities. These can range from company outings to something as simple as having bagels every Wednesday. Hosting contests is another way to liven up the atmosphere and keep millennials happy.

Generation X

Generation Xers are typically in the middle of their careers. They seek balance between home life and work but they don’t want to slow down; they are highly motivated by upward movement. Here’s some ways to retain your Gen X employees:Retain Your Employees

1. Offer flexibility

Like millennials, generation Xers value flexibility. Most are now parents and consequently value the balance of work and life more than ever. Offering a flexible schedule that allows them to occasionally work from home, take time off, or reduce hours is vital to retaining generation Xers. Plus, this is no disadvantage to you, as due to their technology savvy, gen Xers can get a lot of work done outside of the office.

2. Offer mentorship and advancement opportunities

Generation Xers value self-improvement and look to continually develop their educational and career opportunities. If they feel there is no room to grow in their current company, they are likely to leave. You can help retain valuable Xers by offering mentorship programs with top-level executives, promoting them when possible, and continuously helping to hone their skills.

3. Foster their independence

According to CTI research, 70% of generation Xers prefer to work independently. They are a very self-sufficient group and enjoy being in charge. Allow gen X employees the freedom to work on solo projects without micromanaging them.

4. Allow for strong communication

Solid communication between leaders and employees is important for retaining employees of all age groups. But this is particularly important when working with gen X employees. Generation Xers are more likely to question authority and less likely to tolerate being ignored. If they feel that their opinions are not being heard, gen Xers will most likely seek employment somewhere else. To retain your employees, encourage debate, offer immediate feedback, and allow them to openly express their ideas and opinions.

5. Offer variety

Generation Xers are a group that gets bored easily. In a work environment, they enjoy a variety of tasks and may wish to go elsewhere if they feel their work is menial. Continuously give gen Xers new projects to tackle, and mix up how they work. Though they value their independence, allowing them to work in groups from time to time will provide them with some much desired variety.

Baby BoomersRetain Your Employees

Baby boomers will be the next to retire. You know the value of their years of experience and knowledge. So how do you keep them with your company longer? Following these steps can help ensure they finish their careers with your company:

1. Offer competitive health care benefits and/or wellness programs

This is important for employees of all ages, but it is key for baby boomers. In fact, the top two reasons boomers stay in the workforce are wages and health benefits, according to the AARP. Offering wellness programs in addition to competitive health care will help keep baby boomers working longer.

2. Offer financial security

Again, wages are one of the top two reasons boomers continue working. Offer a competitive salary, but also include stock, 401k, and retirement options to increase your chances of retaining the baby boomers at your company.

3. Provide retirement planning

It is vital that you offer solid retirement planning programs for the baby boomers at your company. Do your research and decide what will work best for you and your employees. Perhaps even hold seminars where baby boomers can voice their concerns, ask questions, and learn more about your retirement plan offerings.

4. Show you value them

Baby boomers are most interested in joining stable, long-standing companies. Due to their traditional values, they prefer an employer who values solid work ethic and company loyalty. Consistently let boomers know that their loyalty and penchant for hard work is not going unnoticed.

5. Offer a feasible schedule

As they near retirement, baby boomers no longer want to work the grueling schedule of a thirty-something professional. Offer them reliable schedules with shorter hours (perhaps part-time) or reduced work weeks.

Okay, so that’s a lot to take in! To recap, let’s take a look at the main points:

  • Millennials will soon make up the majority of the workforce and are the most likely to change jobs. Offering flexibility, cutting edge technology, and a fun work environment are keys to retaining this group.
  • Gen Xers are independent and entrepreneurial; fostering these skills in the workplace are the keys to retaining this group.
  • The keys to retaining baby boomers are solid wages and healthcare options.
  • Both millennials and gen Xers value a flexible work schedule. Baby boomers prefer a stable, but shortened schedule.
  • Both millennials and gen Xers value mentorships and growth opportunities. Continue to provide both groups with new challenges and recognition for their accomplishments.
  • All groups value good internal communication. Millennials want their voices to be heard and appreciated; gen Xers value debates and opinions; and baby boomers value a trusting and open environment.

Now that you know how to retain your employees, get out there and make it so they don’t even consider looking for another job in 2015!

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.